How can colors affect our mind, emotions and behaviours?

How is your perspective influenced by color?

Understanding color and the human mind

“The human eye and brain together translate light into color. Light receptors within the eye transmit messages to the brain, which produces the familiar sensations of color.”

Color can no doubt play a significant role in presenting information, influencing particular moods and even impacting the choices people make. Color preferences determine items people decide to purchase, the outfits they wear, and the way they decorate their living space.

People often pick objects in colors that promote certain moods or feelings, such as selecting a car color that seems vibrant, modern, stylish or reliable. Room colors can also be used to set specific auras, such as painting a bedroom a soft blue to create a tranquil setting.

More scientific research is needed to gain a better understanding of color psychology but experts can categorically state that color influences how we feel and act. Taking into account personal, cultural, and situational factors alongside color can go a long way to appreciating how an individual reacts on a day-to-day basis.


Color Psychology

In 1666, Sir Isaac Newton discovered that when pure white light passes through a prism, it separates into all of the visible colors. He also determined that each color is composed of a single wavelength which can’t be separated any further into other colors.

Despite this, however, light can combine to create other colors. In a similar way that you mix paint to form other colors, red light mixed with yellow light creates an orange color. Differentiation comes when some colors cancel each other out when mixed and result in a white light. A clear example of this would be magenta and green.

Color psychology has become a powerful marketing tool and plays a big part in both art and design despite limited research on it being widely available.

Evidence isn’t based on scientific fact and has come to the fore mostly from individual recollection so how reliable it is can be questioned. That being said, researchers and experts have made several educated observations about the psychology of color and the effect it has on moods, feelings, and behaviours.

Culture and individual life experience both influence how we feel when we see colors. An example of this would be the color black. In many countries, it is seen as a symbol of death, worn at funerals to express sadness at the loss of a person. In Africa, black is a color of masculinity and maturity.


Can Children’s Learning Performance Be Influenced By Colors?

Dr Yiting Duan of Zhejiang Sci-tech University conducted a study on the impact of color on people’s response and behaviour, and more specifically on children’s learning environment. Conducted amongst primary school children over a two-week period, a color tendency test and psychological experiment used 3 different colored environments to examine the children.
In the red environment, children showed a quicker reaction time for logical questions and improved accuracy of answers. The results of the blue and yellow environment were similar. Whilst the influence in the logic test was not clear, the detailed test was more conclusive:
“The influence was not obvious in the logic test, but it could improve the accuracy in the detail test, which shows how yellow and blue stimulates children’s attention and accuracy.” (Dr Y.Duan)

“The influence was not obvious in the logic test, but it could improve the accuracy in the detail test, which shows how yellow and blue stimulates children’s attention and accuracy.”

Dr Y. Duan

Therapy via Color Psychology

Ancient cultures including the Egyptians and Chinese practised chromotherapy. They believed that the use of colors could aid healing and sometimes referred to it as light therapy or colorology. This alternative, holistic treatment is still used today and the foundation of it is based on these theories about colors:

Indigo: Shades are thought to alleviate skin problems

Orange: Improves energy levels and is used to heal the lungs

Red: Increases circulation and is used to stimulate the body and mind

Blue: Treats pain and is believed to soothe illnesses

Yellow: Purifies the body and is thought to stimulate the nerves

Ultimately, colors play a significant part in our lives and perhaps many of us fail to see the importance of color. It has an impact on so many aspects of our lives that run far deeper than we might realise.

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